Home Podcast TOP #42: Is a Rescue Dog Right For You?

TOP #42: Is a Rescue Dog Right For You?

Losing a dog is one of the most difficult experiences a pet owner will ever go through. And on today's podcast I have an author Suzanne Lane who, after losing her canine companion, felt compelled to write a book called “A Little Sammy Music” about the whole experience and tell her dog's story, and how he influenced her life.

Suzanne's dog was a rescue named Sammy whom she adopted at a very early age. We talk a little about her story and discuss the subject of adopting rescue animals. What to expect when rescuing a dog, is it a right thing for you if you're currently looking for a new companion, and how it compares to purchasing dogs from a pet store or a breeder.

Listen to the episode in the video above and find the full podcast transcript below. For more, visit this episode’s post on the official Theory of Pets website.

Is a Rescue Dog Right For You?
(podcast transcript)

Is a Rescue Dog Right for You

INTRO: This week I am talking about losing pets, which is a hard topic to discuss for me and for every other person who has loved a pet who's passed away.

But we're discussing it because I am talking to Suzanne Lane, who is the author of a book called, “A Little Sammy Music,” and Sammy was her dog who has passed away and she's written the book, as she refers to it, “to memorialize her pet” and to share his story with other people.

Of course, I've been a pet owner for decades and we've lost a lot pets over the years, and if you have too you probably have tears in your eyes right now just thinking about them.

So I was really interested to talk to Suzanne; I wanted to understand why she wrote the book, if it was healing for her to write the book, and just discuss a little bit about shelter dogs as well.

Sammy was a rescue dog who Suzanne never thought would come into her life, and for those of us who have ever rescued, it's much different than adopting a pet. If you've done both you know that it's drastically, drastically different. The bond that you have, the connection that you have with the pet is different, and their outlook is different.

You can tell the appreciation from rescue pets, where you don't get that with dogs and cats that you've had from a young age that you've gotten from a breeder or something similar.

So I talked to Suzanne today, you know we talked a lot about rescue pets which is really great. Obviously both her and I really encourage people to adopt, not shop, and so we talked a lot about rescue dogs, rescue pets. We also discussed the book “A Little Sammy Music” and if you're wondering what the title of that book means, she's going to talk about that as well. I'm going to go ahead and let you guys just listen to this interview, I was so thrilled to talk to Suzanne; it was such a wonderful conversation with another dog owner, pet lover. And I hope you guys get as much enjoyment out of it as I do.

Interview with Suzanne Lane

Samantha: Before we talk about the book, I just want to talk about rescuing animals. Obviously, we chatted briefly before, we rescue animals. And I know you do too. And I always like to advocate for that when I can.

Suzanne: Absolutely, I'd be happy to.

Samantha: Why don't you tell us a little bit about your experience with rescuing animals and kind of your background as a pet owner.

Suzanne: Well, I have been rescuing animals on and off since I was a child. I rescued pigeons from the street, I rescued a cat from an ex-fiance. I rescued two other cats from a shelter. Then, what turned big love of my life, a dog from a shelter who had one day left to live.

His name was Sammy. He was a mix, pit bull and, I guess, they thought Australian catahoula. So he looked like a dalmatian, but in a very different way. He was an amazing dog. He was five years old.

Samantha: We've rescued from shelters, and we've also rescued — we live in a very small town, so word sort of gets around in small towns when there is an animal that needs assistance — but rescuing from shelters, is definitely something that, as I mentioned, I advocate for.

Certainly there are people who are looking for pure bred dog of a certain breed, whatever that may be, and that's their choice. What are some of the reasons when you talk to people about rescuing? What are some of the reasons that you give as great reasons to rescue pets?

Suzanne: Well, for one thing, you're saving a life.

I live in New York City. There are numerous what are referred to as “kill shelters.” And in these shelters, dogs have a life expediency. Either they get adopted within a certain amount of time, or they are killed. So it's imperative that these dogs from these shelters get rescued because otherwise my Sammy, my current dog, Yogi — they wouldn't be here.

I think the shelter environment, the longer the dog is in that environment, the more traumatized it is. I've been in all different kinds of shelters. My cats came from a non-kill shelter. And they had a better life; they were still in cages. They were fed better. They were taken care of better.

But in these large sort of public shelters, where dogs get picked up off the street, or they're surrendered, which is the case with my current dog, life isn't good. They get whatever food is donated to the shelter, plus I guess what I guess the shelter buys.

So for me, I've had two vastly different experiences. I had my dog Sammy who was five years old when I rescued him, and he fell into my arms and he stayed there. My current dog, they brought him out of the shelter, they said to me, “You've been warned about this dog, correct?” And I said I've been told that when you squeeze his paw really hard he tolerated it the first time, he tried to bite the second time. And I said, “I think that's smart. Why would anyone let themselves be hurt twice?” So they said, “No. he's very aggressive. You have to be careful with this dog. Technically, we really would not have let you take him, but I know that you really want him.” And it was a different experience.

We didn't bond right away. He had probably some previous life bad experiences. For at least a year I couldn't touch him on his left side. They said he was the product of a domestic violent episode. So it took us a long time. But this dog is the most affectionate, loving, sweet, well-tempered, playful — I don't have enough adjectives to describe the transformation in him. Once he was able to trust and believe that this was a good place for him to be, he just turned into an entirely different animal.

So I think, depending on your temperament, then what you're willing accept, and what, in your heart, what you think, will probably happen, which is that things will turn around and the dog will become an amazing creature, which has been my experience.

Then you go to shelters and you rescue dogs. Otherwise, you go to breeders or you go to pet stores, and you know what? There's no guarantee there either. You can wind up with the most adorable puppy who turns in to a fairly nasty dog. So this is kind of the sum total of my experience.

Samantha: Yeah, I think that's an important point to make. A lot of people, they think that if you raise a puppy, if you get them as an eight-week old puppy from a breeder or a pet store, that you can raise them to be the world's most amazing dog, but there is no guarantee.

There are hereditary conditions; sometimes these dogs come from pet stores, puppies come from puppy mills, and there are a lot of genetic conditions that can be passed down. So there is no guarantee there or anything, that's an important point to make.

I'll say too that, I live in Maine and we don't have kill shelters here but you touched on some reasons even if you don't live in an area where there's kill shelters — a life in a shelter… I work closely with a lot of the shelters and rescues in our area and there are dogs that have been there for years and cats that have been there for years and they get used to that shelter environment of being closed off in a kennel, of not having as much contact with people as they would if they were in a home environment.

I know that shelters do the best that they can; I certainly commend them for the work that they do but of course there's no way that shelters that have 10 or 12 dogs and 20 cats are going to be able to interact with each animal for hours and hours every day. Each dog gets a little bit of attention. a walk, whatever they need, but its really the bare minimum because there's not enough volunteers and employees to do that.

So, even if its not a kill shelter, living in a shelter environment, and you touched on it, they get food donated and its usually the cheapest available. They are feeding a large quantity of dogs; they are not able to buy quality kibble to feed. And the life in a shelter, even if it is not a kill shelter, is certainly no life for any animal.

Suzanne: No, and I think for me, when I rescued my current dog, Yogi — what made me so sad was that they had named him in the shelter. Apparently, the shelter workers one night got together and they decided that they were going to name all of the dogs after designers. So, Yogi, in his shelter life was name Gucci. I am grateful he was not named Luis Vuitton. However, the woman who was talking to me about him said that the night before — and these are largely the pit-bulls who get to sleep first — she said they know the nights before which dogs are going to be euthanized the next day, and the take the animals out and they sit around and the pet them and kiss them and stroke them, so that for once in their life they know this attention before they die.

And I thought this was just — it brings me to tears even thinking about it.

Samantha: Heartbreaking.

Suzanne: It's heartbreaking, that these poor dogs knew maybe 12 hours worth of a good life. And, it is not to say that some dogs are surrendered because there is nothing else that we can do — the owner dies, the owner ends up in the hospital, people move, they can't take the dog with them. But at the end of the day, if it was my dog, and if any of those circumstances existed, I have made provisions for my dog in my will. I know that if, God forbid, something happens to me, he would not wind up in a shelter, and if it was up to me and I had to surrender him and I was still healthy and I had to move or for whatever reason I couldn't take the dog, I would make sure that the dog wound up in a humane shelter where killing was not an option.

If you have a dog and you can't keep it anymore and you do put it in a shelter, or a cat, or a bird — I mean, the idea is to look around and see where you dog or cat is going to get the best care that you can possibly provide.

So, I think these stories in general are — some of them have very happy outcomes. I know when I got Sammy, I didn't know what to do with him for about 5 months. It turned out I had the sweetest, kindest, most gentle, not-housebroken dog in creation and he was clumsy and he liked to eat other dogs poop, for lack of a better word. All of these things came as a huge surprise.

So, I had like the dog from heaven. He was just he had the sweetest personality. There was — unfortunately, there was a young woman who lived in my building that developed multiple sclerosis at 42 and she lost coordination in her arms especially, and she had never been particularly fond of dogs as far as I could see, but suddenly she only wanted to pet Sammy but she was so uncoordinated that instead of petting him she was slapping him around the head and my dog just sat there and he allowed her to do that until I stopped it because I thought, I mean, it's not fair, I'm trying to be nice and let her do what she's trying to do but it wasn't working right but he didn't move. It's almost as if he had a sense that he needed to allow her to do that.

Samantha: We have a saying in our house — “who rescued who” is what we always say — because we rescued so many dogs and in the beginning you think — you're going to rescue this animal, you're giving it a better life and that's kind of — you want a dog certainly, but the main goal for rescuing from a shelter or an organization like that is that you're giving a dog a better home, you're saving it's life, you're bringing it into a family that's going to love it.

And there's always this turning point, and now we've done it — I don't even know how many times we've rescued and animal, but even the cats that we've rescued — there's always this turning point where things click and that getting-to-know-you phase is over, and the dog's comfortable and you're comfortable and it just clicks and it meshes and it's a really amazing feeling.

Obviously because we've been doing this for many years, in very different stages of my life I've rescued dogs from when I was young, and first living on my own and now I'm a wife and a mother and I adopt animals into our family, and every single time there is that turning point where something happens and it just clicks and it's amazing what you do for these dogs but its really amazing what they do for you as well and what they teach you.

And I think that's the thing that I try to always get across to people about rescuing but it's something you can't put into words. Like you said there's no adjectives even to describe the bond that you have with a dog that you have rescued and he's rescued you in a sense as well.

Suzanne: Well, with my dog Sammy he rescued someone else as well. Because my mother was, I would have to say about 90, when Sammy came into my life. Sammy was a big dog. He weighed 65 pounds although he was 42 pounds when I got him, but he was 65 pounds and my mother had no experience with a large dog, and she fell in love before I did.

There was a loving dialogue between us. Every week she would say to me “Do you love him already?” And I would say “No mom it's not happening.”

And we went over there one day and my mother had a lot of vision problems at 90 and she had dropped some medication on the floor so I knew when we went to visit to always do a quick check of the floor to make sure there was no medicine anywhere.

And one day, I missed a pill, Sammy found it, and the next thing I knew he crunched it and I pried open his mouth. I saw the pill going down his throat. So I quickly collected all my mother's pills, called my vet, and said “I don't know which one he took.”

And there was heart medication, and there were a number of things that could have hurt him. So she said “bring him over right now we're going to need to run a tox screen and see what's going on.”

He stayed there for 3 days while they basically kept vigil; they just watched him. They ran blood work periodically, and it turned out that he was OK.

Now keep in mind we had not bonded. So I went to the vet to pick him up in tears because I thought, “I can't manage this dog. He's all over the place. He's constantly living here at the vet for one reason or another,” and I didn't know what to do anymore. This is my wits end.

My vet is located on two floors. So I turned around to see him coming down the stairs exuberant and happy and we made eye contact. And somewhere between the time that he landed on the floor and came over to me, threw himself into my lap — I fell in love.

And it's exactly what you're saying. It was completely unexpected. It just in that second I was still crying, but I realized I was happy. This dog was now officially my dog. And I think he really realized that something had changed as well, and he changed. And from that point on he was just, he was such an amazing amazing companion.

Samantha: Yes. It's really, I mean you don't… You can't explain it to anybody else until they understand it and they've rescued an animal. This is kind of a perfect segue but you've written a book and it's called “The Little Sammy Music” by Suzanne Lane, and there will be a link — if anybody's listening to this on social media, or YouTube or anything like that — there's a link right under, and there'll be a link on our website as well if anybody wants to check the book out.

You've written a book about Sammy and the impact that he had on your life. Obviously we don't want to give the book away, because we want people to read it of course. But it's such an inspiring story, and throughout, you give information about Sammy and some of the little adventures that he has. But the underlying tone of this story — it is about rescuing animals and about your experience with him. So how did the book come about?

Suzanne: Well without giving away too much, as Sammy was getting older and his legs were getting weaker. I thought — I really need to capture his life and memorialize him while he's alive. Because the experience of him…

It was interesting — between my mother getting old and my dog getting old, I learned a lot about patience. I learned a lot about compassion and old age. Sammy taught me constantly.

But the book came about because when Sammy went to sleep at night, he snored and he had a variety of different snores. I found that when I no longer had him it was the sounds of him that I missed. It was the music. He would dream and make these barking noises that sometimes sounded like the was going into not so good territory in his sleep and I would gently wake him up and take him out of wherever he had landed because to me he may have been having a great time, but it didn't sound good. The experience of Sammy after having had cats for 27, 28 years. I grew up with a dog, but he was little. The experience of Sammy is a big dog, and his extraordinary personality was something I wanted to capture. I wanted to share it with other people.

It was very important to me to make sure his life had meaning for other people as well. It was sweet because in my neighborhood, I live in Manhattan, every door man knew him. People on the street all knew him. Everyone in the building would say hello to him. They didn't know my name, but they knew his name. Wherever we went, if he didn't get a little bit of attention from somebody — because he's very unusual looking — if he didn't get at least a tiny bit of attention, I could see he was disappointed. Because he was so used to being fawned over. There was a woman in my neighborhood who called him the unofficial mayor of the left side.

He was just… He was the compliment to my life that I never expected. And I was so grateful for the love and the care that he gave my mother, because I never understood how much it really meant to her until I was writing about it.

Then I realized that whenever she didn't feel well, and she was laying in bed, he would come and — he never did this to me — he would come and curl up on the inside of her knees. And she would go, “he's heavy; you're hurting me” — but she loved it. And never once in my entire life did he do that.

I once hurt my back and I was laying on my bed, and I didn't get the curl into my knees, I got the slap on the legs which was — come on get up; what are you doing?

He was an extraordinary dog.

I've learned since, because I think my current dog is certainly extraordinary as well. He's younger, I got him unexpectedly at a year and a half which I hadn't planned on. But his personality, his intelligence, his playfulness, astound me.

So, Sammy prepared me. I like to think that somewhere along the lines he's still somehow with me. He's all over my apartment.

But to your point, his story — I needed to tell it, so I wrote “A Little Sammy Music.” The title may not mean as much to anyone else as it does to me, but I needed to make sure that somewhere all of these escapades and all of these experiences got translated, and if maybe in there there were some lessons to be learned, I wanted to share them.

I learned more about dog walkers than I ever expected to learn. I fired more dog walkers than I ever expected to fire, and learned that even though my dog seemed to love everybody, that everybody did not love him, and didn't take good care of him on the street.

So I would get reports from other people who would call me and say… In fact, one of my old neighbors who had a dog, and it was one of the few dogs that Sammy really didn't like, and when they saw each other this dog Betty and Sammy would growl at each other.

Betty's owner called me one night and said “Listen, I would hate to get this call, but I feel that I have to make it.” I thought — oh my god, what happened?

She said, “You have a new dog walker” and I said “Yes, I do,” and she said, “well, he just punched your dog in the head.”

Samantha: — Oh my…

Suzanne: I said “What are you talking about?”

She said “well, they were approaching the building and Betty was sitting there, and Sammy saw her and they started growling at each other the way they do, and all of a sudden your dog walker punched him in the head.”

So I called my dog walker and said “Did you punch my dog?” and he said “Yes.”

And I said “Why would you do that? And in the head of all places?” and he said “Well, he was growling at another dog.”

I said, “Why did you punch him?” and he said “Well, what would you have done?” I said ” I would have just pulled him away. How stupid are you? You do this in front of my building in front of the neighbor? Did you think this wouldn't get back to me?”

Samantha: Oh my gosh.

Suzanne: “You're fired.”

So you know what — I went through dog walkers like candy because I needed to know.

The best was — I fired a dog walker who had obligingly been available to walk late at night. And I thought — this is wonderful; I don't have to go out at 11 o'clock at night anymore.

Then I began to hear stories, and then Sammy refused to go out with him, and I paid attention to my dog.

And when the dog walker appeared I said “Sammy doesn't want to walk with you.” And he said, “well, I'll go and get him.”

I said, “no, no, no. You don't understand. He doesn't want to walk with you,” and he just stared at me and I said, “so, it's time for you to leave now.”

He left. Called me the next morning screaming at me. And that evening of course I didn't have a dog walker now. I had a doorman who was six foot six, big guy, and I said to him “Would you mind kind of following behind me like a body guard? I think this man is going to try to hurt me.”

So every time I turned around — this guy should have been in the FBI; I never saw him, but I knew he was there. He followed me for two days in a row to make sure that this lunatic dog walker wasn't gonna pop up out of I don't know where and do something nuts.

So I learned. I would start following the dog walker. I would hire a new dog walker, walk with them, and then on the second walk, I would go down after and I would follow the dog walker. [laughs] Eventually, I wound up with a group of people who I really trusted. And they were with me all the way to the end.

And it's city living. I don't know how much this happens outside of city areas, but here there's probably a dog walker for just about every half a block.

Samantha: Yes, and I think it's important. Not just with dog walkers, but we trust our animals with a lot of people. Doggie daycare is becoming a lot more popular. Grooming — a lot of people drop their dogs off at the groomers. They don't stay there; they drop them off and come back in a few hours and pick them up. Some people do that with the vet. There's different people that you trust to — there's pet sitters that come into your home; that's a really major thing; you're trusting them with your home and your dog, and it's a big deal.

So I think it's important to note that you need to be diligent about finding the right people. And maybe somebody is great, they're really great, you enjoy them, whatever they're charging you as a rate is very fair, things on your end are great, but, for whatever reason, your dog's not comfortable. That's important.

So I think it's a good point to make that you need to be diligent. And we're talking about rescuing animals, and I think that something a lot of people don't think about when they're thinking about rescuing an animal is who is my… They always say it takes a village to raise a child. But it takes a village to raise a dog too.

Suzanne: It does.

Samantha: Who is your village? You want to think about that before you bring a dog into your home. Who is your veterinarian going to be? Are you going to need a dog walker, a pet sitter, a groomer? Are those people available in your area? If you're in a city setting, there is one every half a block or so. Do you need to find people that you trust? And be really diligent about it.

Suzanne: You bring up such a good point, because I switched that very early on. Sammy was literally brought to my door; and the woman who did the rescuing — the original rescue; she pulled him from the shelter until they could find a home, so she was basically fostering him — and she said, “I've been taking him to a vet on this street. They'll give you a discount because you rescued him, so you should go there.”

This wasn't the vet that I had used for my cats, and I went there. I wasn't in love. I had to advocate for my dog, and this is such an important point to make for anyone who's thinking about getting a dog from anywhere — I listened to my dog cough, and this new vet kept telling me, “Oh, don't worry, this is just the residuals of kennel cough, he was treated for it, he's fine, he's just gonna cough for a while.” But I was listening and watching the coughing, and I thought, this is not normal.

And I pushed the doctor and pushed him and pushed him, until I said to him, “Listen, I will pay you full price; I want a chest x-ray for my dog.” So he said, “He doesn't need it,” and I said, “I don't care. Just do it.” And it turned out Sammy was very close to pneumonia.

Samantha: Wow.

Suzanne: And the doctor came back and said to me, “Good catch.” I thought I was going to kick him.

I said, “What do you mean, good catch? This should have been your good catch, not mine.” So we never went back there.

And even at my current vet, where it's a large practice; there are a lot of different doctors — I didn't like the way one doctor treated him, and I thought she was rougher than she needed to be.

I had a big printout on the front of his chart that said Doctor So-and-So cannot come near this dog. I don't care if it's an emergency. This doctor cannot touch my dog.

And it turned out I was wrong. I found out many years later, with my current dog Yogi, that in fact she is quite brilliant. She may not have the best personality in the world, but in an emergency she would be the doctor that I want.

So, I have learned to advocate intelligently and hopefully always intelligently, making that decision for Sammy probably wasn't the best in the world because she's highly skilled. It's just like doctors; you're not always going to find someone with a great bedside manner but he my be brilliant at what he does, or she does.

So, there is so many things to consider.

Samantha: Absolutely.

Suzanne: And you have to pay attention to the animal. If Sammy, of all people… [laughs] “Of all people…” — of all dogs…

Samantha: [laughs] They are like people, that's OK.

Suzanne: Well they are, I mean when he didn't want to walk with that walker, I really paid attention, because he would have walked with anyone. The only thing that I've noticed, and I noticed it with Sammy and I see it with Yogi, and I don't know if this is true with dogs from breeders — but if I pass the leash, even just jokingly, if I pass Yogi's leash, same thing with Sammy, even to someone who I know and is who is someone who the dog loves — they panic.

Yogi will bite the leash and bring it back to me, Sammy would just refuse to move because they were attached. That attachment is worth everything in the world.

Samantha: Absolutely. I completely agree. You mentioned the name of the book “A little Sammy Music” might not make sense to anybody else, but I have to say I have always rescued boxers. I fell into it kind of — one kind of showed up on our doorstep. So we took her, this was many years ago, fifteen years ago probably, and she just inspired this love of boxers for me so we've now had multiple boxers over the years.

And the last boxer that we had, Chloe, our little Chloe — she was a very badly abused when we got her, and we always said that she appreciated what we gave her because she knew what t was like to come from somewhere where she didn't have that same kind of lifestyle. So she was very snuggly and she always wanted to be up next to you, everywhere. Our dogs get on the furniture and then they sleep on our bed and things like that. So…

Suzanne: Oh, yes.

Samantha: She was always right next to you, and she was a “brachy-al” breed, so she had the scrunchy nose and she snorted and she made little noises all the time. She snored when she slept. When she would eat, she would make a little snorting noise. And it was always these little noises that, over the years with her — that was Chloe. And we just never really thought anything of it. It's funny, because you said it about Sammy — when they're gone, you don't realize until it's not there anymore how much you miss that sound, all those little sounds.

Suzanne: Yes.

Samantha: So when I first read the title of the book, “A Little Sammy Music,” I figured that reading through it I would get to understand the title, and I understood it so much more than I ever thought I would once I was done with the book. Because we never thought of it as music, but it was all those little noises. And you do miss them when they're gone, for sure.

Suzanne: When he was gone, my apartment went dead. There wasn't a sound anywhere. Even just normal breathing sounds. It sounded like my apartment died. I don't even have words to express that emptiness. It's just — I am grateful and I will always be grateful that Sammy lived a good, long life. He lived a whole life. And, in the end, I don't have any regrets, really, about anything. Because he had the best that he could have.

I don't know what his first five years were like. I'd like to think in the nine afterward that I had him, I made up for whatever happened in the beginning.

Samantha: Definitely.

Suzanne: I don't necessarily think that Sammy was abused. There really was no indication except for the scar above his eye. But I don't know what that was. Because his manner from the beginning was gentle and sweet. Totally over the top and crazy — [laughter] — but very gentle and sweet. And I can see now, from having a dog who I know had been abused, I can see the difference, in the learning to trust, learning to love, learning to understand permanence.

And to your point about free access to your home — when I got yogi he couldn't jump. And I said to the vet, is there something wrong with him? And she said I don't think so, I just don't think he's ever jumped — he also had a very bad case of kennel cough when he arrived which is something that people who adopt from shelters should be prepared for, because it's there, and you just kind of have to take care of the dog — but he would sleep on the floor next to my bed, and then he would look over the bed like oh what's up there, but he would never jump. So finally one day I thought, this is ridiculous, he was 46 pounds; I bent over; I picked him up. 46 pounds was nothing after 65 pounds, and I put him on the bed.

And he stood there on all fours paralyzed, and it's like he couldn't get his footing, and then he went over to the side of the bed and he looked down. And then he came back to the other side and looked down. And I thought he doesn't know how to get down, so I had to help him down, then I helped him up again, and down again. By the third time he was a pro, he now flies, there is nothing wrong with his legs.

Samantha: [laughs] That's funny how they figure that stuff out.

Suzanne: Oh my god, I mean, I was watching him the other day, he flew from the couch in the living room to one of the armchairs. The distance is about four feet, and he literally flew in the air, and I thought oh my god he's going to break his neck. But no, he landed on the chair which of course he started digging on. [laughs] This is very different temperament, but I'm so grateful, and so grateful that I didn't give up on him, that I didn't give him back, that I didn't do any of the things that somebody possibly at the end of their rope, might have done.

I stuck it out and now our king sized bed has become his, and I'm lucky if I get a little space on one side. He's chewed through I can't tell you how many pillows. So this is a different experience. But he's adorable, he's also a pit mix, and I hardly endorse anybody who is afraid of a pit — pit mixes and pitbulls, unless they've been trained to be otherwise, are the sweetest, gentlest, loving dogs on the planet. They're the best. You have to work very hard to turn one.

Samantha: I think that a really important point to make, when we're talking about rescue dogs as — that not giving up — you may end up adopting a dog who is perfect from the get go. I highly doubt it, because most of them are not. You may get one that is already house trained; you may get one that is already used to being around children or whatever the case may be that you — the dog that you are looking for, you may certainly find one that's exactly what you want.

But most of the time with rescue dogs you have to remember that even if they came from a home where they were well loved and cared for and they were trained and things like that — there is a regression when a dog is in a shelter.

They don't have to follow the same rules. It's a very much different environment than a home with a family, so some of that stuff slides. I know some shelters, the dogs do have access to time outside, but they also have potty pads inside in the kennels, because they're in there all night and things like that. So the dogs can regress with house training and things like that. And you need to know going into it when you rescue a dog that the dog that you get on day one from the shelter wont be the dog that is living in your house in a month.

It's a learning process for both of you and it's the patience and the determination and sticking it out and like you said — they are going to ruin pillows; there is going to be a little quirks, when you think their legs won't work and they actually do.

It's just listening to the dog, learning from the dog and taking that time and having the patience of — it can be frustrating; it absolutely can, especially if you get a dog that is just destructive, or a dog that is really hyperactive and has a lot of energy, it certainly can be frustrating. But there is tons of resources out there for pet owners that want help whether it's with training or something like that.

You have to be prepared going into it knowing that it is going to take time. The majority of dogs that come from shelters, and even if you adopt a puppy, it's going to take time and patience and you need to be ready for that.

Suzanne: And you know what, it's different from dog to dog.

Sammy I think is exactly what you described. He had regressed. I think he was in a shelter for six weeks. They tried to adopt him out twice and two times he was brought back, and he was on his third and last possible chance at a life. He definitely was not house broken.

From the moment he entered the apartment he was all over the place. Yogi on the other hand, I put down wee wee pads because I didn't know what to expect. And his response to looking at the wee wee pads was he ate it.

Samantha: [laughs]

Suzanne: — and he was totally house broken. So I learned — you never know what to expect. And that's kind of the beauty of adopting older, and rescuing. You don't know who it is.

Samantha: Yes very. I agree. I agree. I think that's part of the excitement.

Suzanne: Yes. And I would so strongly urge people — thousands of dogs are dying every single day because people are afraid of shelters; they're afraid to rescue; they think their chances are better with a breeder. It's really not necessarily true.

These dogs deserve a life. They deserve to be happy, and in return that's what they give you. They give enormous happiness. So for my money I would never ever go to a breeder because my experience has been really positive. They've been different, but [laughs] they've been positive.

Samantha: I couldn't agree more. That's a perfect way to sum it up.

For anybody who is a dog lover or a dog owner, and if you've rescued, even if you haven't rescued, “A Little Sammy Music” by Suzanne Lane. Again, we're going to have links on our site and for anybody listening on social media, it's there as well.

Check out the book. It's a great story. You talk about capturing Sammy's life and memorializing him and it's a great way that you did that, but it's also a really touching and a heartwarming story for people who didn't know Sammy, but we've had other dogs in our lives. It brings some of those memories and really, it's a great book that explains how much you learn from a dog. And it's not just your first dog, but rescuing a dog. It's new every single time.

So I encourage people to check the book out. It's really easy to read, very well written, short chapters. I love that we actually, we have a niece who is 13, and she is an animal lover as well. So she saw this book on my desk. And she said, “Can I read it?” and I said, “Well, I have to read it for work and once I'm done with it I'll let you know and I'll see if it's appropriate for you.” And I read it I loved it. I passed it on to her. She read it and loved it.

So really, kids, adults, anybody that has a soft spot for pets I think would get — this is a great read for anybody in that category. So thank you for writing “A Little Sammy Music” and sharing it with all of us.

Suzanne: Thank you so much. And I really appreciate it, I love that you gave it to your 13 year old. I think it's so sweet.

Samantha: She loved it. I always encourage them to obviously to read books that they're interested in, and so one of her favorite books, and of course now it's a very popular movie, is “Marley and Me.” So I said — loved Marley and Me; you're going to love this one too.

And so it was a really great tribute to Sammy for sure, but anybody that's ever loved a dog or anybody that understand that bond that you have with a pet I think will enjoy reading “A Little Sammy Music” so if anybody wants to check that out we will share the links.

Suzanne: Thank you so much.

Samantha: If you've been questioning whether to adopt or to purchase a pet I hope that this podcast episode just showed you how wonderful and magical it can be to bring a rescue animal into your home.

I hope that if you've ever loved a dog and lost a dog or if you are a fellow rescuer like Suzanne and myself, that this really touched your heart. I had a great time talking to Suzanne. This podcast was really therapeutic for me on a certain level.

PREVIOUS PODCAST: Benefits of Dog Massage and How to Treat Your Pets at Home

Disclosure: We may earn affiliate commissions at no cost to you from the links on this page. This did not affect our assessment of products. Read more here and find full disclosure here.

Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.